Kendra Shank: Incantation / Throw It Away


Incantation / Throw It Away


Kendra Shank (vocals)


A Spirit Free: Abbey Lincoln Songbook (Challenge 73253)

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Kendra Shank (vocals), Frank Kimbrough (piano), Dean Johnson (bass), Tony Moreno (drums, percussion), Billy Drewes (percussion).

Composed by Abbey Lincoln


Recorded: New York, January 2 and 3, 2005


Rating: 79/100 (learn more)

One can only applaud the idea of a tribute album featuring Abbey Lincoln's songs -- especially when Lincoln is still around to appreciate the gesture. But this recording does more to puzzle than to please. The essence of phrasing for jazz vocalists, as epitomized by the work of Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra, has long been to let the meaning of the words guide the voice. But on this track, Shank seems to accent syllables at random, almost as if she were singing in Esperanto, and didn't know the meaning of the words. Sometimes she falls into a singsong, moving back and forth from heavily stressed to unstressed syllables, reminding me of a babysitter reciting a nursery rhyme. I give Shank credit for trying something different, but Lincoln's moving lyrics are lost in this babble. Shank is a talented singer with an excellent voice, but her conception of this song lets her down on this particular performance.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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